SLIGO – Clarview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Activity Director Darlene Davis retired last Thursday after 38 years of service, spending it with the people she served throughout her career.
“I’m going out with a bang and we’re taking eight residents to a Pittsburgh Pirates game,” said Davis. “This is our fourth year for that and it’s become an annual event. The residents have to be able to stand at least eight hours of activity because it’s a long drive down, the game, and then driving back. Of course, health is a concern. We take both of our vans. We do fund raising throughout the year to be able to afford to go to the game. We feed them lunch down there and come back and have pizza for them.
“Some of the staff nurses will also accompany them on their trip to Pittsburgh so that they have their medications. There’s a lot of planning that goes into this.”
Davis was 20 years old and starting to raise a family when she first started at Clarview as a care nurse. After a few years of experience, she spent the next couple of years in the dietary department and in activities the last 30 years.
“We have such a wide variety of residents that have to have a wide variety of activities to meet their needs,” she said explaining activities at Clarview. “We will never get rid of bingo, of course, with this generation. Another thing that they like is the manicures for the ladies.
“It depends on residents where we do the activities. The larger group activities are held in our dining room, the smaller ones in our activity room, and we have done them in the lounges. We try to get them out of the facility when the weather is nice as much as we can.
“We do monthly shopping and out to lunch trips,” Davis continued. “If we get invited to different theaters and things like that, we take them to those as well. Then when the weather is nice we do structure a lot of our activities outside.
“We have courtyards outside on both units, we have the pond area out back and fishing is huge. Fishing trips in season. There’s nice fish out there but we throw them back in.”
Nursing homes have changed over the years, and 30 years ago care was more passive. Now, a therapeutic background is added to the activities as well. The average length of stay has also changed and is now 18 days.
Davis says the residents are the best part of her job. “We do get to know them no matter how long they stay here. We do the one-on-one visits for the ones who don’t attend the activities and probably on a different level than care nurses.”
What’s her most memorable thing about the job? “Putting smiles on the residents’ faces.”
Director of Admissions Stephanie Ginnery explained that the Activities Department is also part of the intake portion of admission process and sits down with the new admissions and their families to find out what they like and what they’ve done in the past.
“They talk about things that interest them and that allows activities to cater to them during their stay,” said Ginnery. “We had a gentleman here that had been in two other facilities and neither one of them ever addressed that and that’s one of the first things that our activities department does.”
Davis’s replacement hasn’t been named. The department consists of three people, one of whom started in 1979 when Clarview first opened. As Clarview makes plans for its 40th anniversary, maintaining the approach of the activities department will be a top goal.
Davis and her husband live in Sligo. Her husband is also retiring this week for his second time.
“In retirement we plan to do some travelling,” she said. “We own a camp down by the river and spend some time there. We have horses and a horse trailer. We also have grandkids and kids that live out-of-state so we will be traveling to see them.”
At the end of the interview, Davis admitted she might consider some volunteer work at Clarview after she settles into retirement. “There’s always that chance.”